Lawmaker Who Attacked Mags Over Cig Ads Isn't Happy With Response

Rep 'Extremely Disappointed' 11 Women's Titles Haven't Made Changes

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The leader of a group of U.S. representatives that has been asking women's magazines to voluntarily give up cigarette advertising said she is unsatisfied with publishers' response -- or, more often, their lack of response.

Magazine ads like this one from Camel have drawn the ire of Rep. Lois Capps.
Magazine ads like this one from Camel have drawn the ire of Rep. Lois Capps.

"I am extremely disappointed with the decision of these 11 women's magazines to continue running ads promoting cigarette smoking," said Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., in her third and latest open letter. "These ads encourage a fatally addictive habit and are especially targeted at young women. It's just flat-out hypocritical to run stories about becoming more beautiful and healthy while promoting a dangerous product responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of people a year."

Three respond to lawmaker
None of the 11 magazines targeted for running Camel No. 9 ads have responded to repeated requests for comment on the subject, perhaps calculating that there was no advantage in engaging the issue publicly. Three Conde Nast titles -- Vogue, Glamour and W -- responded to Ms. Capps directly.

Vogue Publisher Thomas A. Florio suggested that Congress pass new restrictions on tobacco advertising instead of trying to shame magazines.

"As members of the media, we at Vogue continue to practice our right of freedom of the press, expressing our views on such topics without pressure from, or regard for, a company who may advertise in Vogue, now or in the future," Mr. Florio said in a letter dated Aug. 7 and provided today by Ms. Capps. "In our opinion, however, the goal of Congress should be to create legal guidelines for the marketing, distribution and sale of tobacco products, rather than to bring pressure on a magazine to forgo its legal right to conduct business as approved by lawmakers of the United States."

Glamour Editor in Chief Cynthia Leive wrote Ms. Capps that her magazine's editorial consistently cautions women about the dangers of smoking, citing examples like an August 2007 feature, "The #1 Cancer Killing Young Women and How to Beat It." But smoking remains a personal choice and the Camel ads in question are legal, Ms. Leive said.

'Constructive dialogue'
At W, Chairman and Editorial Director Patrick McCarthy said his staff shares the representatives' concern about teenage smoking. "And, of course, we would be happy to engage -- as you suggested -- in a 'constructive dialogue' about this issue," he added. His letter dated Aug. 15 promises to reach out to set up a follow-up conversation.

Ms. Capps didn't sound impressed today. "Incredibly, Glamour and Vogue continue to assert that they can report and editorialize on the dangers of smoking simultaneously accepting enticing advertisements for the very product they pretend to decry," she said, going on to leave the door open on W and heap scorn on the magazines that didn't respond: Cosmopolitan, Elle, InStyle, Interview, Lucky, Marie Claire, Soap Opera Digest and Us Weekly.

It remains to be seen what further pressure, if any, Ms. Capps and her colleagues can apply, but she said she would try. "In the coming weeks we will continue to highlight the hypocrisy of these magazines' actions and pursue alternative means to encourage them to do the right thing," she wrote.

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